It’s that time of year again. Spandex on, long hair brushed and preened, boobs holstered in push-up bras (even the men), and death to all but metal. Panther are back in town…
This time they brought with them reggae/metal crossover act Skindred and viral video smash hits The Lounge Kittens, making for a very interesting mix of styles.
Despite being on at 7:15, the crowd were still filing in when the Lounge Kittens started their set but by the time they were halfway gone, the place was close to full. Acoustically, they seemed a bit “mushy” (I was front and centre, about six people from the barricade) which is a hell of a shame for a group which sells itself on their vocal abilities, but hardly unexpected in the audio quagmire that is the Academy.
Somehow, despite being three ladies stood spread over the stage rather than bouncing around playing guitars they didn’t look out of place. A fair few members of the crowd obviously knew what to expect and reception was good as the Kittens barraged through around a dozen tracks of rock/metal covers (and a cover of a series of covers…) and some mutual bitchy abuse.
As well as being musically talented (and, let’s be honest, pretty damn hot), they’re also genuinely funny and play off each other really well. I’d say the biggest cheers from the crowd were for “Duality”, the Skindred song they covered and their version of Panther’s own “Glory Hole”. Rounding off with a medley that some recognised as Weird Al Yankovic’s “Angry White Boy Polka”, The Lounge Kittens left to a very warm round of applause which they’d definitely earned.
Not a group to be written off as “they did a few videos and lucked out”, I’m sure they’ll be back through sometime. I’d definitely like to see them do a full show, maybe at a slightly smaller venue with better sound.
A short break – just long enough to get through the queue in the gents’ and avoid the scary guy trying to sell me toilet paper on the way out (why are venues doing that now?) – and Skindred strolled on stage to get the crowd moving.
Rumour has it that Skindred put on an incredible live act, but I just didn’t get that feeling tonight. Maybe it was the cramped stage (Panther had a huge portion curtained off for their use), the murky sound, the crap lighting or just the fact that I don’t know any of their songs… but for me, Skindred were just an enjoyable way to spend 45 minutes waiting for the headliners.
They’re not bad by any stretch, and a few pockets of the audience were going genuinely mental to their groovy, raga-metal but I just couldn’t get into it. Decent enough to nod my head to, but maybe I need to see them doing their own show to appreciate them.
Steel Panther, though… they’re in another league. This is the band who, frankly, blew Def Leppard and Motley Crue away when they opened for them at the SECC some time ago. That wasn’t a one-off and I’ve yet to see a disappointing performance from Michael Starr and the boys.
Cherry-picking a great line-up of songs from their three albums, they had us rocking with “Death to All But Metal”, “Party Like Tomorrow Is the End of the World”, “Ten Strikes Your Out” and more. Opener “Pussywhipped” was marred by poor sound, but once they’d figured out that the audience might actually want to hear Satchel’s guitar in the mix things improved.
Of course, being a glam rock band they have to have some arena-style ballads. As such we were regaled with such classics as “Stripper Girl”, “Weenie Ride” and one of my favourites, “Girl From Oklahoma” (I worry so much that that song is biographical, I really do). All featuring the multi-talented Stix on grand piano, as was their rendition of internet-only release “Kanye”. A surprising number of the audience knew the words to this track, released as an impromptu video a couple of weeks ago.
“Asian Hooker” was accompanied by a lady of SE Asian descent being crowd-surfed to the front to dance with the band – I swear the same girl who did this the last time they played here. “Tomorrow Night” and “The Shocker” had the band inviting about ten lovelies from the audience up on stage to join them (and take selfies, obviously).
If you were on stage, I have your picture! They’re in the set on flickr – and don’t worry, if you did expose more flesh than you would have were you sober I’ve not uploaded those ones!
The highlight of the evening, though, and I swear the biggest cheer barring the band coming on stage and when they left, was when one Ben White was pulled from the crowd after holding up a sign saying “My Dream Is To Play Eyes Of A Panther With Steel Panther”.
They only went and let him do it.
And he only fucking nailed it.
The video’s below, courtesy of one of Ben’s mates in the audience and – speaking to him overnight – I don’t think he’s managed a wink of sleep since it happened. Kudos to the crowd for chanting his name (once the band found out what it was) and making it a night to remember for him.
See, that’s what makes Steel Panther such a brilliant live act. Any decent band can rattle off an hour or two of their best songs. It takes that bit extra to really engage your audience and give them something they simply can’t get by listening to the albums with headphones on. Steel Panther have done this every one of the four times I’ve seen them and I know they’ll do it again, and again, and again. That’s why I’ll get a ticket next time they announce a tour safe in the knowledge that it’s money well spent.
Because, like Lexi’s gorgeous hair, they’re worth it.